We’re all addicted at once, so we don’t feel addicted at all. Addicted to ourselves. Or rather, to our self we work tirelessly to uphold. We’re posing and striving and regressing from honesty. All to protect an illusion: the illusion of possessing a self.
With mutual affliction, we reinforce the delusion. Nobody is made to feel sleazy for checking their Facebook notifications or applying filters to their Instagram selfies. It’s simply a normal thing to do. But these acts have become so pedestrian that we hardly consider their psychological underpinnings. Why do we care if the picture gets liked? Why should people care about what I’m doing right now?
Can’t we see these acts for what they are? They’re compulsive pleas for self-recognition.
That’s a little strong, you’re probably thinking. And let me tell you, it’s not the most receptive idea at the house party. But ultimately it is true. If we honestly felt worthy, we’d focus much less on ourselves and much more on a cause, however noble or benign. But most of us don’t have a cause that exists outside of our self. We’re adaptively selfish and it all seems to (somewhat) work out.
So instead of acknowledging our objective insignificance, we’ve built enormous structures on this fault. Things like vanity and religion. Erected with the sole purpose to convince us that we’re worthy. As if someone’s keeping track. As if there is an objective path we should be taking.
Chasing acceptance through every trend and empty promise leaves the conscious mind exhausted. It turns out, yearning is cognitively expensive. We get identity fatigue.
It’s a chronic illness but we do have recourse.
Shed that self and retire the notion of should. Then watch as the universe ticks.
It will go on without that self.
And so will you.